Rhum Barbancourt 15 year
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from Internet Wines and Spirits
Amber rums are tricky beasts. Light rums are so often weak and hollow (although there are exceptions.) Dark rums are often – for better or worse – brutal and in-you-face. Amber rums, though, run the gamut. By most appearances they are unintimidating. But sometimes this benign appearance conceals a soul of fire. And so it is with Rhum Barbancourt 15 Year.
I tried the Barbancourt 8 Year some time back, as it was actually recommended over the 15 Year by respectable sites like The Ministry of Rum. As it turns out, I wasn’t overly impressed (I should have known better – since when should you listen to someone respectable when it comes to rum?) Eventually, on the recommendation of a few loyal readers, I opted to give the Barbancourt 15 Year a try at long last.
Aside from my original lukewarm experience with Barbancourt, I had two more reasons to lower my expectations, the first being the often telling (but at times deceptive) screwtop. I’ve had a handful of brilliant rums packaged in a screwtop bottle, but they are by far the exception. My second concern was the fact that, common amongst French island rums, this is a rum agriole – or “rhum” – made from sugarcane as opposed to molasses. Many folks prefer this method, but in my own experience agrioles taste raw and skunky. Rarely to my liking, and lacking the proper “kick” I enjoy in my rum.
My concerns, my expectations, my preconceived notions – deep six them all. Barbancourt 15 Year is a joy to experience. Peppery and hot, it embodies everything a rum should be. To the nose it’s more sensation than aroma, with a sharp tingle that barely conceals the sweetly burning liquid beneath. Lacking subtlety, this is the rum that burns your eyes and your sinuses, and yet it surprisingly lacks even a hint of char or smoke. All fire, but no ash. The taste itself begins warm and sweet, but this is soon followed by that now familar burning sensation. This burn doesn’t follow to the throat, but instead lingers on the tongue a surprisingly long time. Once again, flavors are well overcome by sensations, but not unpleasantly so.
Barbancourt 15 Year is a joy. It should be experienced cautiously, as it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Share a bottle with your landsmen friends, and then bask in your own pirattitude as they find themselves well out of their depth.